Reviewer: Greg Sewart

DEVELOPER
Treasure

PUBLISHER
Nintendo

AVAILABLE
Now

MEDIUM
Cartridge

PLAYERS
One


ere it is, the game that no one thought would ever actually see the light of day on this side of the Pacific. Treasure's premier N64 offering, renamed to Mischief Makers, is a traditional 2D side scrolling action game in the vein of such classics as Gunstar Heroes and the Contra series. The N64 is the last place you'd expect to see a game like this, but the system actually pulls it off rather nicely.

You play Ultra-Intergalactic-Cybot-G, Marina Liteyears, a spunky little robot who assists the adventurer, Prof. Theo. Actually, in MM her assistance is pretty much limited to rescuing Theo from various predicaments. The duo have traveled to the planet Clancer after hearing of the problems plaguing the land, however, it seems that the evil Clancers have some sort of strange obsession with the prof., they keep kidnapping him. To make matters worse, Theo and Marina have been branded as criminals.

Anyone who's played Treasure's previous games knows that they're one of the best at what they do. Mischief Makers, while maybe not their best effort, is certainly proof of this. As Marina you'll move in 360 degrees through multiple levels, each with a unique goal. All the early levels are basic tutorials, allowing you to practice Marina's skills such as jumping, grabbing, throwing and shaking. In the Treasure tradition, the learning curve is nothing short of perfect. While the early levels are very forgiving, by the time you reach the advanced levels, you'll find you're a master at just about every skill available to you. While the levels are short, the variety makes boredom no threat, and the sheer amount of areas makes for a large game.

Some of the Clancers are actually friendly and can help you out with various hints.

Unfortunately, there is a downside that offsets what should be a great game. The control seems a tad quirky, and you may find yourself zigging instead of zagging. One major culprit is the tiny c-cluster buttons, and the fact that double tapping will give you a burst of power in any direction. The controls do become a little easier with practice, but still not as good as they could have been. Weather it's the controller or the game that's to blame for this, I'm not sure, but it's irritating nonetheless.

The graphics are charming, and are very reminiscent of Guardian Heroes on the Saturn. Each level is simply bursting with color and lush backgrounds. The level of the graphics seem to fluctuate, however, as some areas look like a SNES game, while others, especially the bosses, really show of the capabilities of Nintendo's powerhouse. Each sprite is very well animated, and there are some nice lighting effects in a few of the scenes. It would be interesting to compare this to other N64 efforts of its kind, but unfortunately, that just can't be done.

Music has never been a strongpoint of the N64, and I'm sorry to say that Mischief Makers does nothing to improve that reputation one bit. The tunes are all classic Treasure, but the quality is just lacking. It wouldn't be hard to find a SNES game that sounds better than this. The voice samples are actually very nice, although they're limited. I swear, if I hear Marina shout "STOOOOPP!!" one more time I may be forced to do something drastic. Seriously, the voices add some much needed character to the game, and really are done well.

Lunar packs quite a punch, but with the help of Cat Clancer, you can overcome all obstacles.

When all is said and done, I can't say that I'm not pleased with Mischief Makers. Although it's not all I thought it should be, it's a solid side scroller. It's funny how this genre seems to be making a comeback, especially on the N64. While the term "beggars can't be choosers" may best describe Mischief Makers on the N64, if you're a Treasure fan, or an N64 owner that's sick of Doom clones, Mischief Makers is the game for you.

-- Greg Sewart

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